I am not proud. I strolled into breakfast with a sandwich bag full of English tea bags asking for agua caliente. I was desperate. Two brews down and I was ready for the day.
Before leaving I asked the proprietor where she was born. Portugal she said. I followed up by saying that she sounds maybe Russian when she speaks English. I was not fooled. Let’s not forget, I have watched Killing Eve. The lady was Russian. Either KGB or confused.
I head over the Duoro River. Then climb very steeply up a twisting mountain road, with fabulous views, and on to Saucelle. Another ghost town. Where is everyone? Every small town the same.
The road straightens. I think the Romans did this bit. It is desserted. Nothing for miles. A very rare sight for me recently. What can you do?
The speedo says 180 and still accelerating (it’s kph not mph) … A car from nowhere with something on the roof. Police?. I back off to 90 (which is the actual speed limit. The Spanish sit at 120 typically). It’s a taxi thankfully. Joining more major roads I head on to Salamanca.
After a few loops around the block I find the hotel underground parking. Every time, always well hidden. Like the bat cave.
Check-in, drop my stuff and check out the “Centro”. Holy moly. What a stunningly beautiful city. I won’t lie, I have no idea what these places are, however I appreciate the craftsman. Built in a time with no power tools, big plant machinery, CAD tools etc.
I even find vegetarian food without too much searching. What’s not to like. I get a few souvenirs sorted too. It means rearranging my packing and loading ritual but nothing major. Alternatively I just dump my dirty underwear. That could start a war however.
During the lull in the afternoon I happen across a barbers that is almost empty. They are very slow, all 3 of the snippers. I wait 40 mins maybe. One guy is in the chair best part of an hour. He did have his beard very neatly trimmed and a cut-throat neck shave, however the man is bald!!! Meticulous.
By the time it’s my turn it is full. “No hablos Espanol” I mumble. Those waiting look up from their phones. The barber speaks no Inglés. I Google to find a picture. We agree the beard needs some love too. Between us we do a good job. By the end I look just like the guy in the picture, Zack Efron. Amazing.
I wander around again. By early evening it is heaving. The historic plaza full of people and joyful sounds. It is Friday night after all.
I Google vegetarian restaurants. A veggie cafe within 200m. Off I trot (limp; I have walked over 10,000 steps my hip is good for maybe half that). The place is 75% full. All are 20 something girls in pairs chatting or singles doing laptop stuff. I guess maybe being a vegetarian isn’t the macho thing in Spain. I just point at three random things behind glass counters as there is no menu. Starving. By the time I leave they are queuing for tables.
I meander back to the hotel. Twice I am stopped and asked questions by Spanish people. I explain the predicament, they smile. No problemo. Flattered that I don’t look out of place. It’s the new hair cut.
Back at room 538 I look at the news. It has been a few days. The stock market has crashed due to the Corona virus (dare not check my pension or ISA – buy when others are fearful … All well and good if you have money). Apparently 38% of Americans are avoiding Corona beer for this reason. Sadly I am hardly amazed at how stupid people can be. My hotel for the night, the Corona Sol has a distinct lack of American accents – draw your own conclusions.
Tomorrow involves heading north to Santander, in the rain, in time for the 8.30pm ferry. I will decide the details in the morning.
The pull of home is very strong.